Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Dancer in the Dark Review

It had been a while since I had been to a movie night at Karl's.  When Shauna disclosed that she had chosen a musical that starred Bjork, I was kind of wishing I had waited another week.  But, as it turns out, this movie is very good.

It is a very tragic tale of Selma (Bjork), a Communist refugee in the 50s whose life is the polar opposite of her favourite movie genre, the musical.  It does a very good job of juxtaposing her ideal life with her actual life.  I originally thought that it would have made a fantastic tragedy without the musical numbers.  And I still think it would have been a very good movie.  However, when you add in the musical numbers in the manner that they did, it creates that much more depth and lets you see into Selma's mind so much better.  The songs (written by Bjork) have raw lyrics that evoke thoughts of being written by children.  But it's all the imagination of a simple person and not really meant to move the plot like a conventional musical.  The musical scenes come at times when Selma's life is falling apart.  This is the exact opposite of most musicals out there.  In fact, they even bring up the point that nothing bad ever happens in a musical.  The musical scenes in Dancer show you how Selma wants her world to be.  Lars von Trier shows this entire juxtaposition brilliantly by using vastly different camera work and lighting from the main scenes.

The acting in this film is very good too.  I was surprised because normally, musicians are pretty bad in films (even musicals).  I never thought I'd see the day where anything Bjork did made sense, but she does a fantastic job of playing the adorable innocent girl who cannot control her life spinning away from her.  There is not a point in this movie where you don't want to just jump into the screen and save Selma.  The supporting cast is very solid as well even if none of them can sing.  But it isn't about how they sing.  It's about how Selma wants them to be.  As an aside, I also especially liked how David Morse played the "back against the wall" character.  He's just so good at playing the guy you want to hate.

Definitely see it.  While it is long (2.25 hours), the last half hour or so is so powerful that it makes the wait worthwhile.

1 comment:

  1. Had never heard of this film -- now I want to see it!